Great Questions To Ask An Advisor

Money is the most difficult topic to talk about

There is a retirement crisis in America.  What makes this crisis even more difficult to face is the fact that the most difficult conversation you can have is about money. People would rather talk about politics and religion before opening up about their finances. Even discussing death is preferred. It’s little wonder that money is among the top reasons couples fight. Yet, for some reason, I decided to take on a job that requires me to get people open up about the issue.

Trust me, being a financial advisor is not an easy job. The chance of a new advisor making it past the first three years in the industry is around 15%. There are plenty of reasons why people leave, but the inability to get clients talking about the difficult subject of money has to rank near the top. The reason I’m still working as an advisor is because I’ve seen firsthand what can happen when a retiree has put off the conversation too long.

Why you need to talk to an advisor

In my role at Merrill Lynch, my job was to set create financial plans for people who had recently left their employer.  I created over 1,000 financial plans during my time with the company.  Some clients were changing employers, though the majority were retiring. For many, I was the first person they had ever discussed retirement or their finances. Perhaps that is why so few people have saved up enough money to make it through retirement.

This lack of comfort in discussing finances is central to the looming retirement crisis in America. Only about half of the people saving for retirement know how much they’ll need to cover their expenses when they do retire. It’s mind blowing that so few people know how much they would need in retirement. I’m going to be honest with you… many of the retirees I worked with couldn’t fund more than a year or two of retirement. Even with Social Security, I could tell when they would be bankrupt.   

The many hard conversations I had with folks is my main motivation for going out on my own as a financial advisor.  I’ve stuck with the industry for over a decade. I was continually ranked a top advisor at Merrill Lynch, yet I was outspoken against the Wall Street sales tactics at the firm. It’s hard enough for people to open up about money and even more so when the big banks victimize customers. Seeing how bankers walked away with big bonuses after the Great Recession further motivated me.

I want to do something new. I want to do financial planning for the people, not Wall Street. But that requires a conversation. So let’s make that conversation a bit easier.  Let’s avoid becoming another victim of Wall Street and the retirement crisis. Here’s how we start.  Below is the list of questions you need to be asking both yourself and any potential financial advisor you’re interested in working with.

Top Questions To Ask

  • Why did you choose this line of work? 
  • What’s your education?
  • What are your professional designations?
  • Are you a fiduciary?
  • How much do you cost? 
  • How did you handle 2008?
  • When can I afford to retire?
  • How will inflation impact my retirement goals?
  • What’s my net worth?
  • How will I be able to pay bills six months from now and even further out into the future?
  • Which investment vehicle is right for me?
  • Do you own the same investment and insurance products you would recommend to me?
  • How do you invest in yourself?
  • What types of insurance and documents do I need in place to protect my family?
  • Where is my money going now and where should it be going?
  • What exactly is a diversified portfolio and how can I build one?
  • How did my investments do this past year??
  • What tax savings strategies are available to me?
  • Am I taking advantage of all the benefit plans my employer offers?
  • What financial changes can I expect after I get married?
  • How much can I help my kids with school finances without derailing my own retirement?
  • Can I afford to have another child?
  • How much house can I afford?

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